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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ZION MUSICAL SOCIETY

ZION MUSICAL SOCIETY

The ZION MUSICAL SOCIETY may have been the first public Jewish singing organization during the 19th century in America. Formed in 1861 by Rabbi/Cantor GUSTAVE M. COHEN, the society not only performed congregational work but also sang outside of the synagogue. Rabbi Cohen was European-born and educated and, significantly, was the first trained cantor in America. He was the author and composer of the Sacred Harp of Judah, published in 3 volumes by Brainard's (see BRAINARD'S SONS). His other works of hymns and services include Family Circle of Worship and The Orpheus, also published in Cleveland. Melodeon Hall was the site of the first public performance of the Zion Musical Society, on 5 Mar. 1862. The concert consisted of vocal and instrumental sacred music. The society associated with ANSHE CHESED until 1866, when Rabbi Cohen joined Tifereth Israel as cantor. Sometime between then and 1873, the society dissolved.